George Brigham of Retford, Nottinghamshire, England writes: “A colleague was leading an all-ages service on Christmas Day. During part of the service an idea adapted from Pictionary was used. The minister whispered various elements of the Christmas story in the ears of obliging children. The child was then asked to draw it on a whiteboard at the front.
The congregation were then invited to guess who, or what was drawn. Part way through, the minister whispered in a 10-year-old's ear. Out front he proudly drew some wedge shaped objects, but no one could guess where they fitted in the story.
"’What have you drawn?’" the minister finally asked the child.
“The child was surprised that the minister couldn’t remember. ‘Baby cheeses, of course.’"   [Ralph Milton] 

A New Year's Poem

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rimes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.                              [Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892] 


Incarcerated Indigenous women now make up nearly 50 percent of all federally sentenced women.  Dr. Ivan Zinger said that in the very near future Canada will reach the ‘sad milestone’ of a 50-50 split, despite the fact that Indigenous women represent less than 5 percent of the total population. He said that overrepresentation of Indigenous people in prison settings is evidence of ‘public policy failures over successive decades as no government has been able to stop or reverse this trend.’     [Globe & Mail, December 18, 2021] The work of Christmas – to find the lost, to free the enslaved, to bring peace among people – continues to be urgent. 

SUNDAY, January 9

This week we remember Jesus’ baptism and reflect on our own experience as well.  Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism highlights the fact that Jesus was praying as the Spirit descended upon him.  As we make Jesus’ story our own can we too expect the fresh energy of the Spirit  to remind us of God’s amazing love and the tasks to which God is calling us? 


What three things happen at Jesus’ baptism and what meaning do they have for him as a thirty-year old beginning ministry?

At what time in your life have you felt God’s special touch as if something new was about to happen for you?